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Correspondent’s week

This week by John Greenwood, deputy personal finance editor of the Sunday Telegraph

Trading a cosy eyrie above Soho for the steel and glass monolith that is Britain’s tallest building is just one of the differences between working at Money Marketing and the Sunday Telegraph.

The route into the office is still a chaotic ruck of people but the main commuting frustrations of the journey to Canary Wharf is the jostling of worker ants more desperate than oneself to get to the office rather than the obstructions of wide-eyed tourists standing in front of ticket barriers.

First day in the office, one wants to blend in so it is disconcerting to look down at my chest to see a hot-cross bun effect on my shirt, a failed attempt to iron out the newness. But while 1 Canada Square does have wonderful facilities, these do not, unlike MM HQ, extend to an interview room solely dedicated to a perpetually plugged in iron. I will just have to see the day through with my creases.

Mondays are quiet in the Sunday Tel because most people are in on a Saturday, so my first day on the PF desk of this quality broadsheet is spent sorting out computers and finding my way around a confusing building. Identical on all four sides, a trip to the cafe finds me buzzing up and down faceless corridors, retracing my steps like a panicking Pac-man victim.

Tuesday sees me meeting with Fidelity’s Richard Wastcoat. He gives me his card, bearing the old name, Fidelity Investments, which reminds me the company seems to be now calling itself Fidelity International, a move communications head Anne Read reminds me was quietly slipped out over the summer to move away from the “American fund management giant” image.

Walking across Victoria station on Wednesday I almost walk into a pallet of yoghurt. There are often corporate-branded beauties handing out consumer junk but this pile of dairy produce is unmanned. And the yoghurt is in 500ml cartons, not exactly a commuter snack size. And there are no spoons. But plenty of passers-by are just taking pots for themselves. Is this theft? Will a hapless delivery man looking for M&S come back to find his pallet emptied? The klepto in me takes over and I grab a tub and stuff it in my bag. I am reminded of the Roy Walker of popular quiz show Catchphrase: “It’s good, but it’s not right.”

Seconds later, I pick up a copy of the FT and realise that the pension timebomb has just exploded so it’s straight into the office and on to the phone to chat to normally calm pension gurus made animated by tales of leaks in Whitehall. It should make tomorrow’s IPPR speech by new work and pensions minister John Hutton a bit more exciting.

Thursday, and London University’s aptly named Chancellor’s Hall is packed with gurus. The IPPR speech is co-hosted by Scottish Widows and Hutton is speaking next to a big cut-out of the widow. As he takes the mike, I am perturbed to hear him make some comment about how attractive this cardboard reproduction is. Back to the office to bash out 1,000 words about how Hutton is having a laugh if he thinks Government schemes such as stakeholder and Sandler are going to solve the pension crisis.

On Friday, I am tracking down NPI over tumbling fund values. Their press contact is the ever affable Tony Langham, who is just off to Budapest for the weekend with 150 staff and friends.

I also chat to Giles Hargreave of Marlborough about how his stellar special sits fund has gone off the boil lately. He tells me his fund lost out on the company that did the kitchens for the Athens Olympics.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: paul.mcmillan@centaur.co.uk or telephone: 020 7970 4776

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